New program offers farmers and organic farming advocates the opportunity to assist transitioning farmers in collaboration with Rodale Institute.
Building on the success of its Organic Consulting Service launched in 2019, the nonprofit Rodale Institute has launched the Rodale Institute Certified Advisor program, a new part-time employment opportunity that builds a network of local, trusted organic consultants backed by Rodale Institute’s expertise.
Under the management of Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting team, Rodale Institute Certified Advisors (RICA) will meet with current and prospective organic farmers to utilize local knowledge, community, and trust to help increase organic acreage across the country. These advisors will be backed by nearly 75 years of research and farmer training from Rodale Institute, as well as the world-renowned reputation of the global leader in regenerative organic agriculture.
Learn more about the program in this short video:
“The Rodale Institute Certified Advisor program is a perfect opportunity for existing or retired farmers, organic farming advocates, or those seeking to work with transitioning farmers to get involved with helping advance organic agriculture on the ground,” said Sam Malriat, Director of Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting Service. “Not only does this program allow Rodale Institute to expand our services to more farmers across the country, but it also helps foster trust by building on the knowledge that many farmers may already have of Rodale Institute as an institution.”
The first pilot cohort of Rodale Institute Certified Advisors began the process in late 2021. To be eligible, participants must submit an application to Rodale Institute that includes their experience and expertise. Prospective Advisors must then complete associated and an exam.
Rodale Institute’s robust Virtual Campus will support participants as they work towards attaining a Certified Adviser position and meeting the rigorous requirements.
Once approved, Certified Advisors will be matched with Rodale Institute Organic Consulting Service clients based on geographical region and need.
Eric Ford, a 2021 pilot cohort participant, is currently a farmer in Ottawa Lake, MI.
“As a second-generation organic farmer, the organic farming system is all I have ever known,” said Ford. “I have always enjoyed the challenges and rewards that come with being in the organic industry. I look forward to being able to share what I have learned in my experiences over the years with growers, as well as learn more from growers and other advisers.”
Rodale Institute’s Organic Consulting Service was launched in 2019 through support from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Designed as a one-on-one mentorship model, Rodale Institute consultants meet with farmers interested in transitioning some or all of their land to organic or regenerative organic management to create an individualized plan. This Service has expanded to include more than 10 consultants in 7 states, with over 300 farmer clients in under two years of operation.
“We’ve been so excited about the response that we’ve received to our Consulting Service, and we’re excited to expand access to transitioning resources through the RICA program,” said Emily Gantz, Rodale Institute Organic Consulting Service Program Manager. “As our client base grew, we realized that we were missing regional knowledge and a diversity of backgrounds that really allows us to build one-on-one support for farmers. By empowering Certified Advisors to bring the research of Rodale Institute to their communities, we are widening the impact of this work.”
Rodale Institute Certified Advisors will become qualified to advise farmers on topics such as certification assistance, crop rotation planning, recordkeeping, market discovery, soil analysis, and much more.